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Preckwinkle Talks Cook County Taxes

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County Board president defends proposed cuts, including layoffs.

Just about everyone is going to find something not to like about Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle's proposed budget.

Preckwinkle will officially announce her budget on Tuesday, but much of the cat is already out of the bag, starting last week when she announced plans to lay off more than 1,000 workers.

Preckwinkle justifies the layoffs and other planned tax increases on items like alcohol and chewing tobacco on the money residents have been saving on her gradual rollback of the sales tax, which was increased by 1 percent in 2008.

"These are some of the toughest decisions we have to make, but when you have a $315 million gap to close, and 80 percent of your costs are in personnel, I have to believe there are going to be layoffs," Preckwinkle said Monday night at a campaign event for 8th District Congressional candidate Raja Krishnamoorthi.

"It amounts to about $25 million, and as I said, this budget and last year's budget reflects $250 million in savings as a result of rolling back the sales tax increase, so we've saved 250 and added 25. I think that's a good trade," Preckwinkle said.

Preckwinkle plans to completely eliminate the sales tax increase by the end of 2012, with a quarter of a percent reduction planned in the upcoming budget.

A third of the proposed budget will go toward health care, a little less than a billion dollars, according to Preckwinkle.

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